Jill Homer has been talking a lot about finding her “forever speed”. She does a lot of long distance biking and running races. The “forever speed” is the speed you can go at, well, forever. It’s the speed you spin at effortlessly. It’s not really the “out with the kids” speed, no it’s a real race speed. But it’s a magical speed. There have been times when I have found my forever speed. And when I find my forever speed I have also find flow. The state at which things become “perfect” and I am totally in the moment. I experienced that twice at Leadville. Climbing Sugarloaf (my favorite climb of the race) and actually when I was climbing Columbine.
That’s one of the reasons I love racing/riding long distances.
But some days are NOT for the forever speed. Some days are for the “go as hard as you can and see if you blow up” speed.
Originally I was going to go to Connecticut to race in the Root 66 Series opener at Hop Brook Dam. The logistics got complicated and we decided to stay home. What’s to be done then? I mean my training schedule has a race day on it and I was all prepped to race. Clearly I needed to figure something out. OK, how about putting on my own little race?
Two hours around the block. Time for a little personal time trial race.
My house sits on a dirt road. There is a nice little 6.4 mile figure 8 loop I can do. The dirt is marred by enough pot holes right now to make it virtually undrivable with a car in places. So it’s a little more exciting than a typical day on a two track road. Spring is in full swing and it was actually in the 70′s yesterday (70 feels hot after 6 months below freezing!). The forecast rain did not materialized. Perfect.
This loop isn’t really flat and it isn’t really hilly either. It has 4 or 5 punchy 15% grade short climbs, a fast short down hill, and a longer 4-5% grade uphill section. In all there is about 400 ft of climb for each lap. I would characterize it as one of those “you never really get to recover” loops.
On a normal day, at a normal pace, I can usually cover this loop in about 26 minutes. I set out on my first lap.
The first half mile is pretty flat but leads to a nice 90 ft 12% punch. Up on the pedals to keep the all important momentum up the hill. A screaming fast down the back side. A little rest on a flat section to a small, keep you momentum, punch past the house with the nice German Sheppard. Onto a little pavement past the kids who always say “nice bike” when I go past. Back onto dirt and up a short but steep (18%) bump. Down a little and up a half mile sustained moderate climb past the Giffin Rd Maple Company. Back down the screamer (its a figure 8 so I hit that one twice). Then a mile long 4% climb past the place where the house that was a Speak Easy during prohibition used to sit. Down some pavement right hand turn to my house.
Time: 21 minutes, 39 seconds. Average speed: 17.7 mph.
Lap 2 pretty much a carbon copy. Well the course WAS a carbon copy and I was a second faster 21:38.
Lap 3 was when I got to experience the “you are not at your forever speed” realization and things began to hurt. The uphills became just a little harder, the downhills became just a little bit shorter. Time: 22:09.
During lap 4 I began to debate how long this race should last. It was MY race after all and all of this was self induced. I had two hours and had planned originally on doing 4 laps (based on how long it usually to me to do the loop). Now it was clear I could get a 5th lap in under the two hour time limit. But how long was my race? Was it 4 laps or was it 2 hours?
Doug: “Man these climbs suck and hurt. Honey Stinger gel. Yum. That’s good. I am almost out of CarboRocket 333.”
Yeti: “Meat, shut up and do a 5th lap, its a 2 hour race.”
Past my house. 22:30.
My 5th lap actually felt faster than the 4th. I worked harder. Stood more on the gut punches. Tucked lower on the down hills. Still the average speed on the gps ticked down. Past my house 22:44.
I finished in 1:50:48 with an average speed of 17.3 mph. Average Heart Rate 146, peak 159.
Oh and I won the race. ;)
Too my friends at: Playful Life, Not So Wild, Jenni Blog 2.0, and Pavements Edge. If you have not stumbled across Jill Homer’s blog you should. You would appreciate her.
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